So long ago that there is no man who can still remember that time, there was a girl with eyes as bright as the moon and hair just as beautiful. She lived in a humble cottage with a thatched roof and there she spent much time reading and enjoying the cool breeze that often came whistling through the windows. She read so much, in fact, that she was one of the most intelligent creatures on Earth, although no one knew it.
One day, a small dog appeared by her cottage. He had terrible gashes along his back. When the girl saw him, she immediately took him in and, remembering a book she had read long ago, patched him up and sent him on his way. As soon as the dog was out of sight he magically turned into a torn up and bleeding kitten, for he was, in fact, a shape-shifter by the name of Rakaflame who had been sent by the nearby prince to find a person who was truly brave. He returned to the girl's cottage and meowed constantly until the girl came to the door.
"Oh, dear!" said she when she noticed the kitten. "There must be some animal out there, attacking other creatures." With that she took the kitten in, washed him, fed him, and sent him on his way.
"Ah!" thought Rakaflame. "She is kind to animals-- but what if the animal is. . . a rat?" With that he turned into a rat and returned to the girl's cottage.
It must be said that the girl was less than pleased to see a hurt rat at her doorway, but she took him in and fixed him up till he was good as new, and then with a smile and a wave, sent him on his way. As soon as the rat was out of her house the girl sat down on the couch and began to think. "I know," she said aloud, "that there is a cruel beast attacking other animals, for so many are appearing on my doorstep. Perhaps I shall go find the beast, and get rid of it, and then the animals won't be hurt." With that she grabbed some books and began reading about the many creatures that roamed the forest. She read about an ogre that had killed many an animal, and how it was afraid of fire, and how no man had ever gathered up enough courage to kill him. She read about a snake as long as a river and as wide as a tree, and how it slithered through the woods looking for animals to eat. And she read about a dangerous creature that no one had ever seen and only heard, and how its cry could chill your bones and paralyze small animals. She read at last that these three animals were working together as a group, so they always had enough to eat at night.
When she had finished reading all this she picked up a kitchen knife and a frying pan and ran out the door. She wanted to kill these terrible beasts, and although a kitchen knife and a frying pan wouldn't do much, trickery would.
Soon she came upon a clearing in the woods and with a squeak of fear, she saw a huge ogre with a broad flat face and small black eyes looking straight at her. "Hu-u-man!" it said, and with that it took its mighty fist and was about to deliver a devastating blow when another creature appeared that distracted it. It was the prince that had sent Rakaflame, and right there next to him was Rakaflame, all perky and cheerful in his human form.
"Ahhh, princess, I will save you." said the prince, and he drew his sword.
"I was doing quite fine on my own, thank you." said the girl. "And I'm not a princess."
The prince frowned. "You are ruining my dramatic appearance." he said. "Either way you are beautiful and for that reason I will save you."
The girl glared at him. "So, if I were ugly, you would not save me?"
"Of course I wouldn't!" replied the prince. "Just imagine if I came in to save you and you turned around and you were ugly! That would ruin my dramatic appearance!"
The ogre was looking at them, eyes going from the girl to the prince to the girl again. Noticing that the ogre was distracted, the girl promptly hit him hard over the head with the frying pan and the ogre fell down, knocked out. With the kitchen knife, she stabbed him in the chest. Then she turned on her heel and walked away without looking back.
The next day, she returned and this time she found the giant snake. The snake was sleeping peacefully and from the enormous lump in its middle had just eaten. With a swipe of the kitchen knife, the girl cut it in two. Out of its middle crawled a very disgruntled-looking prince. When he saw who had saved him, he turned white then red and then purple, and without even a grunt of thanks he strutted off.
On the last day, when the girl came to kill the screaming beast, she found Rakaflame instead. As soon as Rakaflame saw her he turned into a puppy, then a kitten, and at last a rat, and the girl stared. Then she burst out laughing. "So you are the hurt animals!" she said. "Can you tell me where the screaming beast is, or are you it, too?"
"I do not know what you speak of." said Rakaflame, and then they heard a terrible scream.
"That!" cried the girl, and drew her knife. And Rakaflame laughed.
"Hasdry, come here!" he called into the woods. "Hasdry, my pet!" At his call a small blue bird came hopping by and opened its beak and let loose an awful scream. Rakaflame turned to the girl and grinned. "That," said he, "is the terrible screaming monster. My brother, Gurguntash, dared me to trick all the villagers into believing that there was truly a terrible beast in the woods."
"Ah," said the girl. "But what about-- I mean, how can it paralyze small creatures?"
"Rumors, my lass." answered Rakaflame. "Rumors."
At that moment the prince came walking by, and, noticing the girl's cozy meeting with Rakaflame, grew very red in the face. "Milady," he said, pushing his way in between Rakaflame and the girl. "Allow me to escort you to the palace where you and I shall be wed."
The girl frowned. "We're getting married?"
"But of course!" answered the prince. "You are a beautiful lass, and I a handsome prince! That is what happens in fairy tales, no?"
"Yes," agreed the girl. "But God be thanked that this is not a fairy tale. Goodbye." and with that she went off, with Rakaflame following her.
A year and a half later, the girl and Rakaflame were married, for, to be honest, this is really a fairy tale although don't tell the girl that. They went off to live in a small house by the sea and were never heard of again. Whether or not they had children, or went off on any more adventures, well, that is really up to you.
Monday, March 12, 2012
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